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Creating the necessary backups to all that you do

Creating the necessary backups to all that you doImage Credit: Supplied

When people feel insecure to take time off from work, even paid time off, they end up feeling burnt out. But the emotional and physical toll is not the only expense. In fact, they are hurting their own work by being the sole employees who know how to do particular jobs.

Whether you are in a managerial position or not, keeping all the job strings (and secrets) in your hands all the time can be risky. First, you will eventually take some time off, and that will mean an extensive briefing on the job tasks to someone else, which you probably will be squeezed to do.

In a much-worse scenario, you will be forced to take time off to recover, for example, from an unexpected illness or accident, or handle an emergency. In this case, your employer and staff will scramble to cover your absence.

Many employers require staff to cross-train others on their duties. Whether the staff does this genuinely to ensure a seamless coverage in a case of absence or not is hard to assess until a situation arises. Similar to fire drills, the only way to know their effectiveness is in an actual fire situation. But if they were not done right, the stakes are extremely high.

To delegate your job duties without stress, take the following points into consideration.

Explore your feelings of insecurity

It is hard for anyone to see someone else doing their job duties. The immediate feeling can be that they can be replaced, and letting someone in on what they do makes replacing them even easier. In reality, employers won't just replace you for the sole reason that someone else can do your job.

And if you really look at the bigger market, there are probably hundreds of people who can do what you do as good as you do it, if not better.

So if your concern is job security, add to your technical skills (or doing the job) a great attitude, ability to work in a team, ambition and enthusiasm, openness to change, and the ability to delegate to ensure business continuity. That is your ticket to job stability. In fact, in many cases, if employers see the benefit you bring to the team, they will find you a place even if your job is being cut.

Select the right backup team

Delegation is not something you think about on the Thursday before your planned vacation. It is rather something you work on by selecting the right people, and offering them a chance to do some of the job duties while you are there to answer questions and provide direction. By doing so, if you see that a particular person doesn't have the skills required for the job, you have time to find someone else, and repeat the process.

When you're selecting people to be cross-trained in your duties, make the situation as transparent as possible. You will need to have this plan worked out with your supervisor, and you also will need to let that person know that the training is part of providing cover for your absence — nothing more.

In many cases, people misunderstand such training as grooming for a higher position — so make sure you are clear about the goals. If you are a department manager, encourage and supervise similar cross-training among your staff.

Have clear documentation

Make it a habit to document new job duties and update existing ones, and let someone you trust (your supervisor, for example) know the location of this documentation. Make sure that any critical information like passwords or confidential company information is protected. But also make sure someone knows how to get to it.

As mentioned, there are cases where you may need someone to step in and do the job while you are unavailable to provide any direction. So have a plan for these unfortunate situations that ensures the employer will suffer zero to minimal downtime during your absence. Almost in all cases, this planning will make you a keeper in the employer's eyes.


Pick and train a team to do your duties, if needed.

Discuss a plan with your supervisor.

Document your job duties and give access to a supervisor.

Delegation doesn't get replaced, but work crises do.

Get tips on developing middle manager capabilities

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor